Michael shows local talent can support international tech platforms

Michael Roberts (Supplied)
Michael Roberts (Supplied)

Khonology CEO Michael Roberts has always wanted to manage and own his destiny, and was inspired by his grandfather at an early age to "always swim upstream and challenge the status quo".

"This is most likely the reason that I always wanted to own my own business and had a number of side hustles at school and whilst studying. This shaped my view in the world and I seem to always see problems as opportunities and how can things be done better or improved," he tells Fin24.

"A glass half full attitude is also helpful, and I love solving problems. This can be a distraction sometimes as I always have a number of business ideas in my head."

Khonology has a strong focus on ensuring technology is seen as a "key" to transformation and empowerment, both in terms of business outcomes as well as its altruistic drivers around developing technical skills in SA.

"We really see an abundance of opportunities to leverage technology to develop sustainable tools and platforms for Africa's businesses and people," he says.

The gap he saw in the market was inefficiency with the systems support setup, particularly for large international technology platforms that seemed to only have international resources working on them.
He was convinced that he could teach and train local people to support the international technology platforms. And also the fact that everyone said it can't be done, was a huge motivator to prove a point.
Asked what some of the challenges were, he says the market perception that "we had no talent, no skills and it really was not an option".

"Secondly our education system did not help, and finding talented individuals with the right mind-set was harder that originally thought. After that we had to convince our clients to take a chance on local talent to deliver and support their technology investments," he continues.  

Getting the right team involved was important to him.

"Maturing our offering and growing our business to our current staff count has been really impressive. And the real winner is proving that we do have talent in Africa and discovering some really amazing people and clients," he says.

His advice for would-be entrepreneurs is to make sure you have the right support structure in place, you will need it.

"Try and have a partner or partners, its can be really tough on your own. In addition to surrounding yourself with the right people, find an amazing accountant, a great lawyer and a banker to support the journey," he concludes.

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